Social media’s influence on this year’s election seems to be greater than ever before. The pandemic left millions of Americans stuck in their homes with time to become more active on social media. Candidates aren’t door knocking or going out nearly as much. Social media platforms give politicians the ability to connect with voters where they are. This creates a direct connection; they no longer have to go through the media to communicate.
According to the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, “In the 2016 election, 48% of college students voted, a rate significantly lower than the national average for all Americans of 61%. In 2014, only 13% of college students ages 18-24 voted. While voting rates increased in the 2018 midterm election, to 40%, that rate was still 10 percentage points lower than the average for all Americans.” Voting also becomes a habit over time; people who vote at an early age tend to develop lifelong habits.
Millennials and Gen Z will be the largest share of eligible voters in the upcoming election. Through social media advertising, political parties can curate their content to be viewed by certain demographic or geographic regions. Social media is this election’s largest tool to reach younger audiences. Political conversations are now spreading freely across all media platforms without the filter of the traditional media.